How can there be so many conflicting spins on the Pew religion report?
The way America's news reporting outlets headlined the Pew Center's recent report on American faith tells more about U.S. journalism than the nation's religion
It’s amazing what magic can be spun, indeed what personal agendas can be supported with a few selectively chosen statistics. Recently the Pew Center released results of its latest religious survey. The headlines that resulted are astonishing in their diversity – and reflect some very revealing biases:
“Pew survey finds 1 in 5 Americans, mostly Democrats, have no religion,” proclaimed the arch-conservative Daily Caller.
“Anti-Gay, Anti-Choice Churches Are Creating Their Own Demise,” announced the hyper-liberal Huffington Post.
“Americans increasingly report no religious ties,” proclaimed Canada’s Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper.
“Irreligious people on the rise? Or just suspicious polling practices?” speculated the iconoclastic American Thinker.
“Churches seek to reclaim the religiously unaffiliated,” reported the moderate St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“No Surprise: Senior Citizens Most Likely to Be Affiliated with Religion,” reported the Senior Journal.
Then there was “Non-religious surpass Protestants in US,” from the Waterloo Record newspaper in Iowa. That article most blatantly didn’t reflect the Pew survey, which found that 48 percent of Americans consider themselves Protestants. The other 52 percent include millions of Catholics, who would be astonished that the Waterloo Record considers them non-religious. In fact, the survey found that 6 percent of the public is now atheist or agnostic. Apparently the Waterloo Record headline writer didn’t bother to read the Pew report.
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